Dressing Well for the World Wide Web

2012 was a monumental year for me, both personally and professionally. One of the things that was transformative for me was learning to dress well after several false starts. If you know me, you know I came from a world of rock tees and torn jeans. Like many guys, the transition to work wear was painful. I struggled with ill-fitting business casual, wore bad shoes and only got it right if I picked the wardrobe out with help from my wife. Jesse Thorn’s Put This On changed all of that for me in 2012.

I don’t remember when exactly I started watching and following Put This On. I devoured Season 1 and have been following Season 2 with great interest. I even bought a Savile Row suit on eBay and had it tailored for me! Quite a leap for a guy who used to wear a torn (and awesome) Sonic Youth “Sister” tee to the office on a routine basis.

Needless to say, the series changed the way I viewed menswear. The message that clothes are important never sank in until I started to see that you didn’t need to spend a fortune to present yourself in a manner that makes you stand out. Just knowing how shirts, pants and jackets should fit goes a long way toward looking better and project confidence. The best part? I already had lots of great pieces hanging in my closet! You may, too.

As my college buddy Tom told me once, “There’s no such thing as being overdressed; there’s only looking good.” It was great advice, and I’m sorry I waited so long to take it. Please take this advice: if you’re a guy who wants to improve his wardrobe and doesn’t know where to begin, please visit putthison.com, watch all the videos and read it every day. You’ll be glad you did.

A New Look and Identity for Ramsayings

As my personal blogging identity crisis continues to evolve, I’m finding more than ever that pursuing a niche is the only way to be truly successful with blogging. It’s been nearly 10 years since I launched the first version of Blackmail Is My Life on Blogger and I can honestly say that being a generalist who tries to incorporate aspects of his personal life is a fool’s errand, that is, unless you can dedicate your heart and soul to it.

You know what’s coming next.

Yep, a new look and identity for Ramsayings! Yes, I’m working with my Internet superfriend Len Damico on installing a new theme that I happened across on Twitter this weekend (you should totally hire Len for whatever you need that involves, you know, the web) and I’m going to focus on the social web here going forward. I know it’ll be a total snoozefest for friends and family, but, you know, thought leadership is a thing that I probably should invest some time in as I continue to grow as a communicator on the social web.

The new theme? You know I get bored and it’s been almost two years since I installed the current theme. As much as I loved adding things like the Follow Suite with Roz’s help, it just doesn’t make much sense to have anything to speak of in the right rail. So I’ll try the new one for a while and see how it goes. Could be a really cool way for me to get more motivated to blog about the sort of work I do and my thoughts about how we’ll talk about brands in the future. Looking forward to thinking about it more here.

Readers Crave Destinations

Last December I offered my two cents on what’s happening with blogging in response to Jeremiah Owyang’s provocative post that pronounced the golden era of tech blogging dead. Now, I’m not sure how people feel about that a few months on, but something that’s stuck with me is how we gather information online today. Sure, we’re having lots of “conversations,” but readers still crave destinations.

Good writers know that in order to get anyone to look at anything online, you need a hook. When we share links on Twitter and Facebook, they’re only interesting if you can tease people to click into the story. We’re all writing headlines for everything we share with the online community. To me that means we still need blogs, websites…anywhere you can put lots of words and ideas next to each other.

We like info snacking, but we’re really picky eaters. Given the amount of information that’s out there it’s only fair that readers only sample what they like at the content buffet. But make no mistake, curation takes more than the almighty “conversation.” So, writers, don’t despair: readers still crave the yummy content that’s always made the web great.

Remember Your Passions

Someone contacted me recently to do a story about Bring Your A’s Game, my quest to bring the Oakland Athletics back to Philadelphia, and it really sparked my imagination about the campaign again. Last summer was great: the A’s came back to town for interleague; we had fun at Memphis Taproom’s beer garden, and we even rallied for a Saturday night game at the ballpark. I had a great time meeting people, young and old, and talking to them about the A’s and baseball and Philadelphia.

Then things stalled a bit. What do you do next? Sure, these things are long, drawn out affairs, so how do you get people to pay attention to your story? The answer, at least for me, is to remember the passion that drove me to it in the first place. I want to connect Philadelphia’s rich baseball history to something in the present. I want to get people excited about a crosstown rivalry that hasn’t existed in nearly 60 years. It’s not easy.

What awoke in me as I talked about what motivated me to start Bring Your A’s Game was the fun of it. Mostly when I talk about it, I expected people to have the kind of reaction Gargano did when I talked to him in the summer of ’10, which is to say, comically negative. I’m often stunned when people agree that Philadelphia not only could support two ballclubs, but that it should. Maybe they don’t all like the Bring Your A’s Game page, but it’s a good feeling to not be laughed out of the court of public opinion. So I want to do more of it.

I mentioned last week on the long neglected Bring Your A’s Game blog and now I’m serious. I’d love to find new ways to connect to new audiences, especially those that aren’t baseball mad. I want to wage this conversation with folks who don’t know anything about baseball, but who like provocative, disruptive ideas. If you know of such a forum, let me know and I’ll prepare accordingly.

The only way to truly realize your passions is to engage others who don’t share them and invite them to join you. It’s invigorating and a vital way to keep the creative juices flowing. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

How’s 2012 Treating You?

How’s 2012 treating you so far? Things have been insanely busy here. I’ve been hacking my job like a boss so far and the outcome is just what I expected: a heaping pile of exciting, engaging work on my plate. Feel really lucky to be doing what I’m doing where I’m doing it. Can’t share too much, but I think many of you out there will be surprised by some of the things cooking at my day job.

Can’t stress enough to “creatives” that work is only as fun as you make it. Do good work and you’ll impress someone. Phoning it in not only makes you miserable, it also means you have nothing to show for your misery.

But enough about work.  Continue reading